Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Republican Partisanship and Hypocrisy: Reaction to the Christmas Day Bombing Attempt

OK. The blogging hiatus is officially over. I was waylaid by a combination of busy work, busy holiday preparations, and disillusionment over the course of health care reform. It became too depressing to observe Democrats rolling over time and again to a few traitorous Republicans in Democrats' clothing (I'm looking at you, Joe Lieberman!)

But now, we are on the verge of a new year and a new decade (if you believe the decades start with "0" and not "1" -- a whole other debate). Too bad it's the same old business for Republicans: putting politics over country, bringing hypocrisy to new levels, and epitomizing the meaning of the phrase "double standard." I'm talking, of course, about the Republican reaction to the failed terrorist attempt aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The Republican response to this frightening attempted act of terrorism was not a swift denouncement of terrorism, extremism, or Al-Qaeda. Nor was it an inspiring rallying of the citizens of this country around a common cause or praise for the swift actions of heroes aboard the airplane who helped prevent a tragedy. No, the Republicans are using this incident as a way to, you guessed it, attack and denounce our President, his staff and the White House handling of the situation.

The hypocrisy of the Republicans is amazing considering that the airport security measures in place to prevent terrorist attacks are what Bush and Cheney put in place during their administration. Weren't they supposed to have fixed the problems of agencies not talking to each other and red flags not being picked up by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security? And wasn't the terrorist (alleged) in Amsterdam and not the U.S. when he boarded that fateful flight?

And finally the double standard. Let's put aside the 9/11 occurred on Bush and Cheney's watch and they ignored very specific warnings of such an attack and then pleaded ignorance. Let's examine a situation very much in parallel to what happened on Christmas Day this year -- Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and his failed attempt to blow up a plane. Sam Stein of Huffington Post has put together a point-by-point comparison of how the Bush Administration and Bush himself responded to that incident versus how the Obama Administration and President Obama himself have responded to this incident. Bottom line, Bush only mentioned the incident six days later, and then only in passing. Before that there was only reference to the White House "monitoring the situation". Interesting, eh? In fact, the shoe bomb incident took place on December 22, 2001. Bush was at Camp David. He left Camp David for Crawford Ranch (where he spent a huge percentage of his presidency) on December 26th. On December 27th, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference regarding a new Osama bin Laden tape that had surfaced. According to Sam Stein's research:
In that press conference, Rumsfeld was ... asked about Richard Reid -- now five days after the incident. "That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense," he said. "And I don't have anything I would want to add."

It would be another day before Bush himself publicly mentioned the shoe bomber. In a press conference on December 28, in Crawford, the president said that incident was proof that "the country has been on alert."
In contrast, President Obama and the White House have been very active in responding to and communicating about the incident. Refreshingly, they have even been open and honest about failures that took place leading to the incident. And please note that Janet Napolitano's comments after the attack have been misquoted and misrepresented. If you read the transcript of what she said here or in other publications, it is clear that she never said "the system worked" in its entirety as she has been repeatedly lambasted for by the right. The context was clearly that once the incident occurred, the system did what it was supposed to do in response.

But I digress. The point is that there is clearly a double standard here, and that the Republicans are shameless in their hypocrisy. Their talking points are that Bush could do no wrong and Obama can do no right even to the detriment of the country and its safety.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fox Right Wing Propaganda

As if we needed any more evidence that Fox "News" should be renamed "Fox Right-Wing Propaganda", watch this Daily Show clip where Jon Stewart catches Sean Hannity inflating the number of protesters and actually using footage of a completely different, more highly-attended rally while discussing the anti-health-care rally a couple of days ago.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Stupak Amendment: Keep the Pressure Up

I really think the Democrats underestimated how angry we Democratic women were going to be after they helped pass the Stupak Amendment. As I mentioned in my last post, the Stupak Amendment takes the current law that prohibits federal funding for abortion and takes it a huge step further - prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortion services in any health exchange be it public or private.

At first, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs refused to address it. Then Senator Claire McCaskill said it wasn't that big a deal. Fortunately, the backlash must have had an effect. President Obama said in an ABC News interview that it needs to be changed to maintain the status quo. Senator McCaskill has already reversed course, tweeting that she opposed adding such an amendment to the Senate Bill. And women's rights champions like Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are speaking out, denouncing the Stupak Amendment and saying that it will not make it through the Senate.

What this all shows me is that we have to make sure our voices continue to be heard. Get the blogosphere buzzing. Set the twitterverse a-twitter. Contact our representatives, call in to radio shows and write letters to the editor. We must keep the pressure on the Democrats so that they know this is important and not an issue to compromise away. For reference, here is a list of Democrats who voted yes on the Stupak Amendment. Even more interesting, here is a list of strongly pro-choice Democrats who voted yes on the amendment.

Here is Rachel Maddow's segment on the Stupak Amendment that lays out very clearly why this is so serious.

The Democratic Party Platform states:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally support Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
Let's hold our representatives accountable to uphold our principles and uphold this key women's rights issue.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Stupak Amendment - Democrats' Disappointing Compromise

So the House of Representatives passed their health care reform bill. Why am I not more excited? Because of the Stupak Amendment. The Stupak Amendment takes the current law that prohibits federal funding for abortion and takes it a huge step further - prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortion services in any health exchange be it public or private.
According the National Organization for Women's (NOW) statement:
The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:

o Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
o Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
o Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.
I continue to be amazed at what the Democrats are willing to give up in the quest to be bi-partisan. They seem to be forgetting that the reason there is an overwhelming Democratic majority in the House, that there is a 60-vote, filibuster-proof Democratic super-majority in the Senate, that there is a Democrat in the White House is because We the People voted for them to be there based on the Democratic Party platform (see p. 50 re: opposing any effort to weaken or undermine the right to choose a safe and legal abortion regardless of ability to pay) and based on what they told us they stand for. The majority of the American people want Health Care Reform with a public option. The majority of American people (78%) believe abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances. Get a spine and stand up for what We the People that you represent believe in!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Article on John McCain's BS re: Sarah Palin and his Campaign

This is a great article that takes John McCain on for laying all the blame for his defeat in the presidential election on the economy and none on the disaster that was Sarah Palin. My favorite part? Bringing up and linking to Tina Fey's brilliant impersonation and the fact that she just repeated verbatim Sarah Palin's responses in the reenactment (not spoof!) of the Katie Couric interview. Check it out!

Geoffrey Dunn: McCain's Latest Palin Lie

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Think Those For-Profit Health Insurers Are Looking Out for You? The Height of Pre-Existing Condition Ridiculousness

I love how the conservative right has turned everyday people into staunch defenders of the large, corporate, for-profit health insurance companies and their right to make a profit. Well, the health insurance companies make a profit by jacking up premiums and reducing the risk of paying out claims. One way to reduce the risk is by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Read the following example of how ridiculous this can get.

Alex Lange Denied Health Care Coverage: "Your Baby Is Too Fat"

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Friday, October 9, 2009

My Personal Note from President Obama --- ;)

Here is the e-mail I received from President Obama regarding his Nobel Peace Prize. What a perfect way to counter these damn conservatives and their constant need to tear President Obama down. First the Olympics and now this. When will the Republicans put aside party politics and put America first? Can't we all be proud that the President of the United States -- our leader -- won this prestigious prize?

Yes we can!!!!

Cristina --

This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What Happened to Patriotism?: Republicans Rooting Against America

Remember when Republicans attempted to corner the market on patriotism? Part of the story behind the name of my blog (the "Patriot" part) was in response to that maddening rhetoric coming from the right implying that to oppose their policies, such as the war in Iraq, was to be unpatriotic, un-American, against our troops.

There are few events that bring out patriotism more than the Olympics. The pride felt watching one's country's athletes marching in the opening ceremony behind the flag, or listening to the national anthem being played and your flag being raised behind a gold-medal winning athlete are special moments to cherish.

The ultimate expression of national pride when it comes to the Olympics? Being able to host the Olympics and show off all that a country has to offer to billions around the world. Just imagine how the Chinese felt during the spectacular Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies.

This is universal, right? Or is it? One of America's great cities, Chicago, was in the running to host the Summer Olympics in 2016. Hosting the Olympics is not just a matter of pride, it is a matter of economics. Hosting the Olympics means investing capital into a region, and it means a huge influx of people from around the world spending money in the region and, one would presume, beyond if they choose to travel more of the country while they are here.

And yet, the Republicans have shown their true colors by rooting against America for the honor of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. They criticized President Obama, who is from Chicago, from taking a less-than-24 hour trip to Copenhagen to personally appeal to the IOC voters. They have had the audacity to trash Chicago and say that it SHOULDN'T host the Olympics. Can you imagine? And when Chicago lost out to Rio de Janeiro, they celebrated with cheers and gleeful headlines touting this outcome as an Obama failure.

I am absolutely appalled and disgusted with this Republicans over this, and I hope every proud, patriotic American is as well. It so clearly demonstrated that for the Republicans, party politics comes first way ahead of the country they insist they love.

I guess they only love it when they are in charge.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Eight years ago today, I was blissfully sleeping in my bed, when my teenage stepson came into our room at around 7:00 AM telling us we had better turn on the news. Apparently, he had been listening to the radio as he was getting ready for school and had heard that something was going on in New York City, that it was being attacked. That sounded pretty strange, so I got my pregnant butt out of bed and went to the living room to turn on the TV.

There on the screen was an image of the World Trade Center with smoke billowing out. I saw only one tower, but my brain filled in the blanks, telling me that the other tower was behind this smoking one. However, they kept showing clips of that second plane hitting the second tower, and the first tower was clearly visible in those shots. I felt uneasy about that but still kept telling myself that the other tower was just blocked from view. I sat mesmerized when all of a sudden, the second tower crumbled to the ground. Gone just like that. I will never forget that image and the sick feeling in my stomach, the shocking blow of realization that not just one, but both towers were destroyed.

It seemed impossible that something like this could happen, that those huge iconic skyscrapers could be destroyed so quickly, that our country was under attack in Washington DC as well. It was horrifying, gut-wrenchingly sad, confusing, shocking, and frightening. I remember watching people in countries all over the world mourning our loss. I remember how patriotic we all felt, displaying our American flags on our cars, in our cubicles at work, defiantly telling the world that we were strong and would survive this.

I also remember finally taking that flag down from my cubicle as 9/11 got twisted by our government leaders into an excuse to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with it, to erode our civil liberties, and as we are now finding out all too well, to torture.

But today is 9/11, and I won't dwell on that. I will simply honor and mourn those who died on that day: the passengers on the planes and the workers in the buildings. I will remember the many heroes of that day: including the brave firefighters, police and rescue workers, the passengers on Flight 93 who prevented what could have been an even greater tragedy.

And I will hug the boy I was carrying in my womb that morning and wish for him and his little brother a future where innocent people are not killed by evil, cowardly terrorists.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sad Story of the School Speech Storm

Once upon a time, the President of the United States had a great idea! He wanted to give a motivational speech that could be shown to students around the country. The speech would encourage the nation's students to stay in school and study hard. It would touch on his own experience when he was in school and how hard he worked to make it to become the President. Above all, it would emphasize the personal responsibility of each student to work hard to reach their own special potential. The speech would look something like this.

But there were some in the country who did not like the President, perhaps even hated the President. They used to be in charge but had squandered their power with wars and reckless spending and greed. They were angry now that they were not in power and vowed to do whatever they could to bring down the President, even wanting him -- and by extension the country -- to fail. Their strategy was to oppose everything the President was trying to do. They capitalized on some people's fear of the President's strange-sounding name and the darker color of his skin. They called him "anti-American" and "scary".

And so, when the President wanted to give this innocent, valuable, motivating speech that would be good for students and therefore good for the country, these people pounced and lied and urged their followers to do the unthinkable -- not allow their children to go to school and listen to the speech, thus making their children truant. They accused the President of injecting politics when they were the ones who had done so by politicizing such a harmless event. They accused the President of indoctrinating the children, when they were the ones indoctrinating their own children to disrespect the fairly and democratically elected leader of the country. Some school districts would not even show the speech, even though past Presidents had given similar speeches and not been excluded.

How could one explain this shocking turn of events? Why would people go to such great lengths to prevent children from listening to the President? The same people who used to shout the loudest that the President deserves respect and it is our patriotic duty as Americans to respect our President, especially during wartime, were strangely silent on that point now. Sadly, it seems that along with the great joy of electing the first African-American president also comes great resistance from those who still harbor hatred and fear.

Many schools will broadcast the speech. Many kids will be inspired. Maybe one of those kids will someday become President of the United States. Maybe it will be a little girl growing up to be a strong woman. Maybe it will be an Asian-American, an Hispanic-American, or another African-American or mixed-race child. Or maybe it will be a white man, who was once a little boy listening to his President telling him to work hard and never give up on himself. Any of these will be a happy ending to what has been a pretty sad story so far.

The end.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mourning Senator Kennedy

Yesterday morning, I was rushing out of the house to go to work. I put the outgoing mail in the mailbox, stuffed my notebook PC and purse in the car, strapped my son in the car seat and grabbed the paper off the driveway to toss into the front seat. I caught a glimpse of the headline, and much to my surprise, began crying. "Ted Kennedy Dies."

Given the brain cancer he was battling and his absence from public view during the recent debate on the issue dearest to his heart, health care, we all could surmise the end was near. Somehow, the event itself is still a devastating blow.

I had to analyze why I was actually moved to tears by the death. Not that I was surprised I was sad, just how sad.

Is it the passing of the Kennedy era? Ted Kennedy is the last of three brothers who changed our country. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, their sister and the founder of the Special Olympics, recently passed away as well. Hearing the tributes to her was a reminder of how much this family of great privilege valued public service and giving back to the community. It is a family that has seen great glory but also great tragedy.

Is it the fact that Teddy won't be able to vote on health care reform, an issue he has been working on for decades? I was hoping he would be able to be that deciding vote, swooping in to be the hero and save the day.

Is it that the Democratic party has now lost one of its strongest leaders at a time when they appear so weak and divided over the health care debate?

I think it is all of the above, a mourning of the past, a frustration over the present, and a fear for the future. Ultimately, it is the the loss of a person we all felt we knew so well from a terrible disease. My heart goes out to his family at this time, because to them he is their beloved father, husband, uncle. And that is what makes it so very sad.

And here comes the tears again! What is up with that?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Get the Facts on Health Care Reform

It's amazing how with all the coverage of health care reform, the focus has been on town halls and the uncivil discourse and yet, hardly any coverage is pointing out what is fact vs. what is fiction. Here are some useful links for finding the truth:

Hear it directly from White House. Here is the official website for setting the record straight.

Here is a useful summary from of the myths and how to dispel them.

Hearing a lot about "death panels"? It is complete hypocrisy on the part of the Republicans. The provision being referred to is about providing so-called "end-of-life" counseling. Now, this does not mean counseling people near the end of their life. It means getting people to put in place things like a living will, detailing one's wishes on medical treatment when something happens. Nobody wants to end up like Terri Schiavo -- having parents and husband fight for years over what you would have wanted. Here are two articles pointing out how many Republicans have voted for and supported this type of provision in the past, including the queen of hypocrites: Sarah Palin.

And finally, read about how the Republicans have no qualms about destroying a man's reputation. Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel has a sister with cerebral palsy and has opposed euthanasia for his entire career. Yet the Republicans have no problem completely mischaracterizing his positions and selectively quoting out of context. (See Sonia Sotomayor for further evidence of such practice).

The health insurance and pharma industries have been spending a whole lot of money to destroy health care reform, and the Republican Party is doing its best to do their bidding -- lying, mischaracterizing, flip-flopping, and worst of all, inciting people to such rage and anger that I am truly afraid that something very bad could happen.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Making Sense of the Gates Story - Two Must-Read Articles

So now that the "beer summit" is over, what can we learn from the whole Henry Louis Gates/Sergeant James Crowley arrest story? And what can we learn from the way some have reacted to it? When I see white pundits and commenters on blogs blaming Gates for the whole thing and freaking out when President Obama spoke the truth by famously saying that the Cambridge police acted stupidly by arresting Professor Gates in his own home, I just can't get over how reluctant all of these people are to put themselves in someone else's shoes for just a moment. I think it's because to do so would be to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, there is unfairness in the system and that yes, whites do have an unfair advantage. This may be a blow to the ego to realize that one's successes may not be 100% attributable to amazing abilities and talent alone. But instead, we have Glenn Beck having the audacity to call Barack Obama racist. I'm sorry, but any time you have a white male accusing someone of color of being racist, you know that guy is as racist as they come. (I find it interesting how racism is seeping out in not-so-thinly-veiled ways with the election of our first black President, e.g. the birther controversy -- but I digress.)

And why are these same pundits not finding any fault with Sergeant Crowley's actions? Aren't the police supposed to diffuse situations? Once he knew Professor Gates was in his own home, why did things escalate further? Why are there inconsistencies in his police report? Apparently, we can't bring up any of those nuances to the story.

I read two articles that helped me make sense of the whole story with clear and powerful explanations of what it is really all about for African-American people.

First, is a column by Ta-Nehisi Coates that was published in Time Magazine, "When Race Matters" discussing how even the most accomplished, well-educated black men are still vulnerable to racial profiling and unfair treatment from police. Here is a particularly interesting passage:
There has been a temptation to use the Gates arrest as a metaphor for the plight of all black people. And yet much of what we think of as "black issues" doesn't really affect most black people. We too easily conflate the words disproportionate and majority. While a disproportionate number of black males are in prison, the majority of us have no experience with hard time. Black people are overrepresented in the ranks of impoverished Americans — but most of us are not poor. Affirmative action may ignite all sorts of racial tensions — but a lot of black people will never apply to a college where such a program exists. What we often term "black issues" are really "American issues" that affect an uncomfortably large number of black people. For activists looking to rally around race, this has presented a problem over the past few decades: there simply is no single issue that unites blacks with the visceral power of segregation and its accompanying "Whites Only" sign.

Mistreatment by the police, however, remains a shared experience for many African Americans. And it's members of the black upper class — people like Gates and Obama and Ford, black America's most credentialed social stratum — who are most sensitive to overzealous policing and racial profiling. When it comes to encounters with law enforcement, they are uniquely aware of how quickly their accolades can be rendered irrelevant.
The second article "Why Obama Could Relate..." is by amazing columnist, Leonard Pitts Jr., who really strikes home with the point that police mistreatment of minorities happens often and thus becomes a part of the shared experience and "baggage". What this article pointed out to me was that for white people to claim that Gates overreacted and should have just shut up or that Obama was "racist" for leaping to a conclusion that the arrest was stupid shows ignorance and a complete unwillingness to understand the background, history and context or why Obama said what he did to stand up for black people everywhere. Key passage:
Are we supposed to believe it coincidence that the men this happens to always happen to be black?

Some of us do. Some of us have the luxury of never connecting the dots, seeing instead one discrete incident over here and tsk tsk, how terrible that is, and another discrete incident over there and tsk tsk again. And then move on and leave it behind.

But others don't have that luxury, don't get to move on and leave it behind. Others carry it like luggage, wear the residue like sweat, into every encounter with every cop, both good and bad: not always memories of what did happen, but fear of what could.

Unnecessary fear? Sometimes; there are many great cops out there. Perfectly valid fear? All too often.

Here, then, is the take-away of the Gates affair: apparently every black man knows what that fear is like, be he professor, preacher, pundit.

Or president.
I don't pretend to have a perfect understanding of what it's like to be black in America. I have a closer view than most white people, but I still have eye-opening moments. I just hope others can open their eyes, hearts and minds enough to hear the other side and try to make sense of what happened.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jon Stewart Takes on the "Birther" Controversy

Jon Stewart is now the most trusted newsperson, and here is an example of why. Jon Stewart calls other supposed journalists on their utter and complete bullshit. Case in point: the birther controversy. Watch how he very easily debunks the whole thing while holding Lou Dobbs and CNN accountable for basically ignoring facts and airing extreme, fringe crap:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Born Identity
Daily Show
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Political HumorJoke of the Day

Friday, July 24, 2009

Letter I Wrote to CNN re: Lou Dobbs

I am disappointed that CNN's President has backed off on criticism of Lou Dobbs for giving legitimacy to the so-called "birther" movement, which questions President Obama's U.S. citizenship. These allegations have been thoroughly debunked, and this movement is a racist attempt to undermine the first Black president. To give it any airtime at all on what is considered a serious news channel gives it an air of legitimacy that is completely inappropriate. Lou Dobbs has no place in journalism.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Revisiting Ridiculous Rumors - The So-Called "Birther" Movement

Amazingly, the rumor that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen still persists. These people even have a moniker: "birthers" and supposedly respectable Republicans are working hard to legitimize these ridiculous rumors. In honor of the birthers, I am re-posting my (well-researched, I might add) rebuttal:

Remember during the campaign when Republicans were spreading those "Obama is not a U.S. citizen" rumors? I actually had a debate in my kitchen with a family member who bought into this crap. Well apparently, Alan Keyes and Senator Richard Shelby are still trying to cast doubt on President Obama with this tired, desperate story. According to Shelby:

"Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.”

Well, let's see. The Obama campaign posted his birth certificate on their website during the campaign. According to, this rumor is categorically false. The State of Hawaii officially verified the validity of the birth certificate. There is even a birth announcement from the Hawaii paper in 1961! What I find hilarious when reading about some of these conspiracy theories, these conspiracy theorists act like this was some scam perpetrated starting back with his birth! Yes, I am sure that in 1961, President Obama's mother and grandmother knew that he would be running for president in 2008 and would need proof of his natural-born citizenship! It is absolutely ridiculous, barely worthy of response.

Another argument I have heard is that because President Obama's father was not a U.S. citizen, President Obama could not be one. These people need to just read the law. If you are born in the United States, you are a natural-born citizen, regardless of your parents' citizenship. And despite its "foreign", "exotic" feel according to Cokie Roberts, Hawaii is one of the fifty United States of America and has been since 1959. Case closed.

Give it up, people, and move on!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Palin's Resignation: The Edited Version:

OK, this is just very amusing. Vanity Fair's editors take a red pen to Sarah Palin's resignation speech.

Palin's Resignation: The Edited Version:

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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Anti-Health Care Reform Crowd and Their Contradictions

Health care reform has become a signature issue for President Obama and therefore, the Republicans (and the powerful insurance and pharma lobby) are doing all they can to make sure he fails. This includes lying, exaggerating and fear-mongering. So let's go through some of these arguments.

First, there is the line about putting a bureaucrat between you and your doctor. Um, hello? That is already taking place today in the form of the insurance company bureaucrats! And does anyone really believe the insurance companies are looking out for the best interest of patients? No, they are working to make a profit -- hence their for-profit status. This is why you hear horror stories about people being stripped of coverage just when they need it the most, and why medical care and benefits are denied and appeals processes are a futile effort. So, would I rather have a government bureaucrat or an insurance company bureaucrat between me and my doctor? This is not really a hard decision!

Second, there is the portrayal of the government as a bunch of nincompoops who can't get anything right, let alone your health care. And yet, somehow we entrust the government to manage our military, our postal service, our fire and police departments, and any other number of services. Why is it only health care at which the government will be totally incompetent? And in fact, Congress and Veterans and retirees are all on government health care and seem to do just fine!

Then, there is the argument that having a public option is anti-free market and will crush the private insurance industry. If the government is so incompetent (see above), how will they be able to crush the insurance companies so easily? And shouldn't free marketers be for all competition? Isn't that the whole argument for a free market? Competition makes everyone better?

Finally, there is the constant drumming of how our health care system is the best in the world, and this is going to screw it all up. Is it the best in the world for those who can't get health insurance or quality medical care? Is it the best in the world for those who are forced into bankruptcy due to the overwhelming medical bills that can come from a serious illness?

Bottom line, I am not willing to say that health care should only be there for those who are able to afford it. I am not willing to say that someone should die if they don't have the money for a life-saving treatment.

Health care reform has to happen, and the sixty Democratic Senators had better grow a pair and make it happen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jon Stewart Skewers Sarah Palin - You Know I Love That!

Jon Stewart was on vacation last week, which means the writing staff had a lot of time to think about how they were going to address Sarah Palin's resignation. The results? Hilarious and, as usual, laser-beam sharp. Clip number one is an examination of Palin's rambling, convoluted explanation for why she is resigning. Clip number two is a hilarious take on her tendency to play the victim, while ripping to shreds Palin's lame basketball analogy. "Maverick basketball", indeed. Check these two clips out:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Craziest Catch
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Half Baked Alaska
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Going REALLY Rogue!

So Sarah Palin announced today that she will stepping down as Governor of Alaska by the end of the month. What exactly is she thinking? I guess there are numerous possibilities. Among them:

1. Is she stepping down in order to focus on a 2012 Presidential bid? If this is the case, it seems like it will backfire. One of the big criticisms of her during the 2008 campaign was her lack of experience. Now, without even a full term as Governor to her credit, this will remain a huge gap. Furthermore, no one wants a quitter! Seriously, I don't even think she would carry her own home state. If I were an Alaskan that voted her into office, I would be pretty pissed!

2. Is she really just tired of the political scene? Somehow, even though that is what I hope, I just don't think that's the case. She seems much too enamored of the power and the attention.

3. Is there some scandal about to break that she is trying to avoid? This may be plausible. Apparently, there are rumblings that she is being investigated for even more ethics issues.

4. Does she just want to cash in by writing her book, getting paid speaking engagements and not have to worry about, you know, governing and stuff? I think this may just be the answer. She may have decided she can have a lot more fun and make a lot more money if she has the freedom to do what she wants and not constantly be criticized for not doing her actual job that she was elected to do.

Whatever the reason, I think she has once again demonstrated herself not to be a serious candidate for any sort of national office. No matter how Bill Kristol or Mary Matalin attempt to spin this, it is not "shrewd", it is not "brilliant", it's irresponsible, selfish and fickle.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Defending Our Great First Lady

I had a lovely, albeit scorching hot, weekend, which included birthday parties on my side of the family as well as my wonderful husband's side. It was great to see my two boys play with one set of cousins on Saturday and the other set on Sunday.

During the course of the weekend, I had a conversation/debate with, well, I'll just call the individual "Right-Wing Cousin" -- RWC for short. Although RWC tried to assure me that RWC listens to all sides and keeps an open mind, somehow, according to this family member, Democrats are at fault for almost everything and President Obama has done nothing good for this country.

The conversation has inspired this post, which may be the first of a series to counter fantastic statements RWC made with the total conviction that they were the absolute truth.

First -- I have to defend our great first lady, who was disparaged with the contention that her hospital job (Vice-President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals) was a "no-show" job that she only got after Barack Obama was elected Senator. Unbeknownst to me, there is a chain e-mail that was circulating where RWC may have gotten this false information.

Check out the reality in this article from Did Michelle Obama make $317,000 a year while working part-time at the University of ...

Basically, the University of Chicago Medical Center has stated that Michelle Obama (who is Harvard and Princeton-educated) was worth her weight in gold and was hired "before Barack was Barack". When she was promoted, she received a raise that made her salary consistent with others at the same level and also was competitive with other offers she was considering at the time. When she started ratcheting down her hours as her husband started his campaign to run for president, her pay was pro-rated until she went on an unpaid leave of absence in 2008. Tax statements prove this out.

So, is it sexist or racist to assume that Michelle Obama couldn't have possibly earned and actually performed this high-level, well-paying position? For those who have created this pack of lies, I'm sure it is both.

I only wish I had this information at my disposal while I was talking to this family member, so I could enlighten with the truth. Oh well, next time!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Roger Ebert's Continuing Commentary on Bill O'Reilly and Pundit Press Generally

Who knew Roger Ebert was so insightful? I have already linked to an open letter he sent to Bill O'Reilly. Here is a thoughtful post on Bill O'Reilly and the pundit press in general. What passes as news today is nowhere near what we tuned into in the past.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stop Saying That! Sarah Palin's Creepy Continuation of Disturbing Dialogue

So, by now we all know about David Letterman's joke about Sarah Palin's daughter getting knocked up at a Yankees game. Ironically, most of us heard about it only after the Palins released statements expressing their shocked outrage at the joke, which they interpreted to be about their 14-year-old daughter. David Letterman contends that the joke was about Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol Palin.

Both Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin released statements on Facebook in response:
"Any 'jokes' about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too."

- Todd Palin

"Concerning Letterman's comments about my young daughter (and I doubt he'd ever dare make such comments about anyone else's daughter): 'Laughter incited by sexually-perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands - that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.'"

- Governor Sarah Palin
I would like to point out that of the small percentage of Americans who were actually watching the show that night (probably about 3 million viewers), I am sure just about all of them thought the joke was about Bristol, who has indeed been "knocked up" (an admittedly crude term). Coverage of Sarah Palin attending the Yankees game does not mention a daughter being there at all. As an example, see this article from the New York Daily News or this story and accompanying photo slide show on Huffington Post. (In fact, there are some who are wondering whether the 14-year-old was actually at the game itself or not. She definitely was the daughter who was in New York.)

So any initial connection between the joke and the 14-year-old was made by the Palins themselves -- and now to a much broader national population. And Sarah Palin continues to leverage the opportunity to garner media attention and continue her ongoing habit of using incendiary language to polarize people and rile up her base. She appeared on the Today Show and CNN, saying things like David Letterman made a joke “about statutory rape about my daughter, Willow." and "David Letterman's crude, sexist, perverted joke about a 14-year-old girl being 'knocked up' by Alex Rodriguez -- I think he's like 30-something years old -- I think that's pretty perverted."

What I find really creepy and disturbing is that Sarah Palin continues to use language like this in regards to her own daughter. No one would have ever connected the 14-year-old to words like "knocked up" and "rape" and "pervert" until she starting spewing her reactive nonsense. As a mother, I would never even want to utter words like that about my own child; to have that concept verbalized. Not to get spiritual or metaphysical or anything, since that is really not my thing, but I can't help but cringe to think that these concepts are now out there. I just wish Sarah Palin would stop saying things like that! If I were her, I would want the whole topic to quickly disappear and remain out of the national consciousness.

But I am not her, and I am not trying to remain in the limelight to shore up my political career.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Demonization of Kate Gosselin - Backlash Against a Working Mom

I began watching "Jon & Kate Plus 8" last year, mostly to marvel at how the Gosselins dealt with eight kids - six of them being toddler sextuplets - with minimal angst, while I sometimes can barely keep up with my two. I didn't always agree with how controlling Kate was with her kids and how short she could be with her husband. However, since I couldn't possibly imagine the chaos that would ensue if she wasn't in absolute control, I felt I shouldn't judge. And these moments seemed "real" to me.

Of course, all hell broke loose when Jon was photographed coming out of a bar at 2AM with another woman. Let the media frenzy begin! Quickly, the non-stop coverage changed -- from slamming Jon for probably cheating on his wife while having eight kids at home -- to the demonization of Kate. "From Mom to Monster", one headline screams. "Mom, You're Mean!" another one cries.

As I caught up on my celebrity magazine fix at the nail salon, I read about Kate's egregious offenses. Now, let's leave aside the subject of whether the children are being exploited by the show or whether the show caused Jon and Kate's marital problems. Both parents bear responsibility for these issues. When examining why Kate has suddenly become the lightning rod for criticism and Jon the victim, what it really boils down to is that Kate doesn't fit with society's image of "the perfect mother". Let's examine her crimes as detailed in these magazines:

- She "made" Jon quit his job and stay home with the kids
- She gets $30 manicures every two weeks
- She spends an hour a day exercising
- She got her teeth whitened
- She got a tummy tuck
- She traveled for her book tour, leaving Jon at home to take care of the kids

How dare she get a tummy tuck after carrying sextuplets! (My God, have you seen the photos of her pregnant?) How dare she insist that Jon take a turn at staying home with the kids? That's the mother's job! Never mind that Jon got hair plugs or that Jon worked outside the home for the first few years of the show. Kate is the selfish one, because (gasp!) she wants to look good, (heaven forbid!) wants to take care of herself and be healthy and (the horror!) she actually travels for business.

Yes, she is a working mom. And in some ways, in our modern society, we still can't reconcile the notion of a working mom with the image of the all-sacrificing mother, who suppresses all of her own needs for those of her children.

And apparently in this scenario, being a working mom is even worse than being a cheating spouse.

Late Term Abortion - What Is It and Why Do Women Get It?

Dr. George Tiller's clinic will not reopen after his murder. The clinic was one of only a handful of places in the country where women could go for a late-term abortion. So what, you may ask? Please read this very thorough article that details what a late-term abortion is and why women (and girls) may need to have one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

U.S. Reporters Sentenced to 12 Years Labor in North Korea

Horrible news has come out of North Korea. The two American reporters, Laura Ling (Lisa Ling's sister) and Euna Lee, who were being held for allegedly illegally crossing the border from China into North Korea while working on a story have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor by the country's highest court. Apparently, the North Korean government is using these two women as pawns in the ongoing negotiations between our governments regarding nuclear arms and sanctions. I really hope something can be done by our government to get North Korea to release them. I can't imagine what they and their families must be going through right now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Egypt Speech: Historic, Direct, Courageous and yet...

I read a transcript of President Obama's historic speech in Cairo, Egypt and was deeply impressed by how directly he tackled the complex issues in the Middle East such as terrorism, Israel/Palestine, and deeply rooted fear and mistrust between the Christan, Jewish and Muslim communities.

It was refreshing to hear such respect given to the religion of Islam by an American president.

It was inspiring to think that we have a president who can perhaps be the bridge to actually bring about some peace in the region.

It was surprising that President Obama was so direct and honest when discussing so openly and honestly what concessions both sides will have to make in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

It was humbling to think of the courage it took for President Obama to stand up there and deliver such a landmark speech.

And it was disappointing that President Obama gave such short shrift to women's rights. Relegated to the bottom of the list of issues President Obama discussed so eloquently, fully and honestly, the brief amount of time given to womens' rights was half-spent on reassuring the crowd that it was OK for women to hide their hair, a third spent making sure it was clear that Islam was not being singled out, and a few words were spoken on the importance of education for women...and that was basically it. What about the brutal abuses of women that take place in some areas? What about the oppression of women being brought back by the Taliban in Afghanistan where women are not allowed to learn or work outside the home? What about the brutal punishment built into law in some regions? Why, in a speech that otherwise so directly confronted other issues, did President Obama choose to gloss over this one?

Read the speech. The rest of it is amazing, but I can't help but be disappointed. Obama Egypt Speech: VIDEO, Full Text

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Monday, June 1, 2009

The Cold-Blooded Murder of a Doctor - Even Scarier Than You Might Think

Please read this post about how the murder of Dr. Tiller may have even broader implications. Cristina Page analyzes anti-abortion violence during the Clinton and Bush Administrations and concludes that this may just be the beginning. Scary stuff. The really sad thing is that there are only a handful of doctors/clinics even willing to perform late-term abortions. And these are tragic situations, typically related to catastrophic health issues. It's pretty amazing that in a country like ours, physical intimidation can be used in this way -- to eliminate a woman's right to a medical procedure that is LEGAL.

Cristina Page: The Murder of Dr. Tiller, a Foreshadowing

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not Suprised and Yet Surprised: How the Conservatives are Attacking Sonia Sotomayor

Of course, I knew the Republicans were going to fight whatever nominee President Obama selected to fill the opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, when President Obama selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor, I have been surprised at what they have attacked the most: one sentence uttered by the judge during a speech she gave to the La Raza group at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
This has led to conservative spokespeople Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling her a "new racist" and "reverse racist" -- laughably non-existent terms they have just made up. It is wrong on so many levels, but I am going to try and capture all of my swirling thoughts on the rich (and disgusting) irony of this.

First, the quote often referenced has been taken completely out of context. Read the whole speech here. It is a thoughtful rumination on what it means to be Latina in the judiciary system and how varied backgrounds, no matter how impartial we aspire to be, shape our lives and opinions and, yes, judgments. Seriously, read it. Here is just a bit more of the speech that is way more illuminating in how Judge Sotomayor thinks:
Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
OK, second. Take a look at these quote and just guess who said them:
"Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position. [...]

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."
"I believe, Senator, that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does."
The first quote is from Samuel Alito during his confirmation hearing and the second is from Clarence Thomas. So apparently, it is OK for conservatives to make reference to how a diverse background can make them a better choice. I don't remember anyone calling Thomas or Alito racist, do you?

Third, it is so ironic for Rush Limbaugh to call anyone racist. It's like a pot calling not the kettle, but snow, black. Check out some of these Rush Limbaugh horribly racist quotes. Things he has actually said to his radio audience. It's absolutely disgusting.

And finally, let's please acknowledge that yes, diversity is something to be valued. Over the entire history of the U.S. Supreme Court, 106 of the 110 justices have been white males. Two have been women, and two have been African-American men. Here is a great summary of how no matter how much a white male may try to understand what a woman or person of color goes through, they can't fully appreciate it: red stapler: Sotomayor and Latina vision So yes, bringing different backgrounds and experiences can only enhance the Court.

Sonia Sotomayor is intelligent and qualified for the Court. The funny part is that I wish President Obama had chosen someone more obviously liberal. He picked a moderate, but the Republicans just can't seem to accept the fact that they are out of power. Do they even realize how much they are turning off much of the electorate? Don't they remember how they were supposed to be appealing to Hispanics and women? They are digging themselves deeper and deeper and for what? From all indications, Sonia Sotomayor will be easily confirmed. However, I don't think the Republicans will be able to easily overcome the image of grey-haired white men having the audacity to call this strong, accomplished Latina woman racist.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Am Shocked, Shocked!

As we all know, President Obama and former VP Dick Cheney gave "dueling speeches" on the national security last week. Well, apparently, McClatchy Newspapers actually did its job and fact-checked Cheney's speech. And I am just shocked (not really) that he exaggerated, omitted key information, and outright lied. It seems to me he has been scrambling like hell to defend Bush Administration policies, mostly to save his own ass from investigation. Check the article out here for the full list of ways Cheney is still attempting to mislead the public.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Democrat Says CIA Records On Briefings Were Not Accurate

Here is more corroboration for Nancy Pelosi that the CIA can't be trusted regarding what they say they briefed with whom.

Another Democrat Says CIA Records On Briefings Were Not Accurate

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Ventura And Hasselbeck Rumble Over Waterboarding On The View

So, Jesse Ventura and Elisabeth Hasselback got into a debate on waterboarding on The View. What amazes me is that Ms. Hasselback has the audacity to carry on this debate with someone who has actually experienced waterboarding himself. And, like a good GOP talking-pointer tries to deflect the issue to Nancy Pelosi. Even more amazingly, she tries to compare the systematic torture that took place with captured detainees to the military operation to rescue and save the life of the U.S. captain who was being held hostage by criminal pirates. I love Jesse Ventura's brief smack-down response. Check it out:

Ventura And Hasselbeck Rumble Over Waterboarding On The View

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Torture and Tortured Logic

How is it that Newt Gingrich can state with a straight face that the Congress should investigate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for claiming that the CIA never told her about waterboarding...

"I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters," the Republican leader said in an interview with ABC Radio.
...and yet, there is no call from old Newt to investigate THE ACTUAL WATERBOARDING?!?!?!

And how does the focus on torture shift from investigating who ordered and approved the torture and why to whether a congressperson from the minority party was briefed on the practice? This is what the Republicans excel at - deflection and distraction. How does the corroborating statements from Bob Graham, who was a Senator at the time in question get buried?

And if you are wondering why torture was really used, check out this story regarding a former aide to Colin Powell. It all becomes so clear -- torture can be effective at getting false testimony. The Bush administration -- Vice-President Dick Cheney in particular -- used torture to try and establish a link between 9/11 and Iraq as a justification for war. A non-existent link that many people still believed existed as late as 2006!

The more that comes to light about what was going on in the Bush Administration, the more I am sickened and convinced that those who perpetrated this evil must be brought to justice.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Supreme Court Opening - Souter Retiring

Justice David Souter is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The fact that President Obama was a constitutional professor is reassuring. He is probably the best-equipped to evaluate the candidates and make an excellent selection. However, apparently, the GOP is already campaigning against his pick - before he has even picked anyone! So, I have a couple of messages:

o Republican Party: You are already seen as the party of "no" right now. Why don't you keep your mouths shut until you see what Obama does?

o President Obama: Please don't try to find someone in the middle who will make Republicans and Democrats both happy. Stand your liberal ground! The Republicans have had control over Supreme Court nominations for too long! And they have no qualms about putting the likes of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia on the court.

Here is an interesting graphic that measures how conservative and liberal Supreme Court justices have been since 1937. Four of the five most conservative justices (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts) are sitting on the court right now. Three of the justices currently considered "liberal" are actually pretty moderate with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg measuring out as very liberal. This shows just how skewed towards conservative the court is right now. We will really need to seize this opportunity to balance things out.

Please pick a liberal and don't fall for any Republican attempts to push it towards the center. They have not displayed any openness to bipartisanship, so if you have to steamroll it through the Senate, just do it! We've got Specter now (more on that on another post!) and should have Franken. Now is the chance to put some balance back in the Supreme Court.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Secretary Hillary Clinton on Reproductive Health

I am fortunate enough to have never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. I can only get an inkling of understanding of what women go through when reading stories such as this and this. However, I have always been strongly pro-choice, knowing that reproductive rights are fundamental to women's rights.

It is despicable the way Republican administrations have forced their religious views not only on this country but on the rest of the world with policies such as the global gag rule, which restricts federal funding for groups that include any information on abortion around the globe. President Obama has already lifted this rule. And now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked by a pro-life congressman if the Obama administration's definition of reproductive health includes abortion. You can see her impassioned and direct response here:

Friday, April 24, 2009


As I wrote earlier, I don't buy this whole argument of looking forward not backward when it comes to investigating possible criminal activity of Bush administration officials, especially when it comes to torture. Once again, Paul Krugman of the New York Times perfectly expresses my views when it comes to this issue in his op-ed piece here.

Surprisingly, Shep Smith of Fox News actually spoke some truth. Check it out here. How long is this guy going to last at Fox, I wonder? Between this and his scolding of Joe the Plumber, he is just not following the Fox script.

Watching Peggy Noonan wax eloquent about how we should just move on and keep walking is nauseating.

And as they keep saying on the Stephanie Miller radio show - all criminal investigations and prosecutions are about looking backwards -- unless it is in the movie Minority Report.

How will we be able to hold ourselves up as as shining beacon of democracy, freedom and justice if we do not hold someone accountable for this whole ugly chapter in our history? We executed people for waterboarding our soldiers after World War II. How can we say this is not torture? The argument that this practice is used to train our soldiers is so shoddy -- it is used to prepare them for possible torture -- because it is TORTURE!!! And it goes beyond waterboarding. Practices included sleep deprivation, slamming detainees against walls, psychological torture and sexual abuse. There are even reports of that old standby - cigarette burns. Read this disturbing article about a soldier who committed suicide after refusing to take part in the torture.

I really hope that President Obama has a plan and is going to allow the Justice Department to investigate. I understand not wanting to make it political, but we cannot let politics stand in the way of justice.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Random Thoughts - From Pirates to Teabaggers

So much going on and so little time to blog. Here are some of my thoughts over the last week:

- Is it wrong to feel so pumped that we took out those three pirates? I had this surge of American pride. We kick ASS! I feel somewhat guilty for feeling this way as I wonder if this is what the neocons felt after bombing the shit out of Iraq. I know that it's a totally different situation. We took out three truly bad guys who were about to kill the ship's captain...but still.
- Speaking of the pirate situation, how hilarious has it been watching Republicans twisting themselves up in knots trying to figure out a way to criticize President Obama for how this perfectly resolved situation was handled?
- You must watch Stephen Colbert's parody of an anti-gay marriage commercial. My favorite part is when the teacher is hit by the gay storm.
- April 15th was Tax Day, and although I certainly wasn't happy about the check I wrote to the IRS, I really don't begrudge contributing to this great nation, including our defense, education, helping those in need, the whole thing. The teabaggers need to get a grip. It is Bush who got us into this mess necessitating the large stimulus bill and bailouts. And of course, Fox News Channel heavily publicized and pushed the event while trying to say it was a "grassroots" movement. Since when is it appropriate for a "news" channel to sponsor a protest? I just don't understand how they get away with it.

Overall, I think President Obama is doing an amazing job, and the Republicans just can't wrap their minds around being in the minority.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jon Stewart to Fox News - Don't Confuse Tyranny with being in the Minority

Once again, it takes Jon Stewart to sum up how ridiculous the over-the-top rhetoric of Fox News commentators and the Republican Party is. They are indiscriminately tossing around terms like "tyranny" and "fascism" just to stir up fear and anger. Thank you, Jon, for speaking such common sense. Check this video out.
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Fox News Channel - Not News Anymore

What would you change the name of Fox News Channel to? Fox Rhetoric Channel? Fox Propaganda Channel? Fox Inciter Channel? I'm not sure how they can even pretend to be a news organization anymore. Read the following article from Media Matters, which details how Fox is actually now promoting protests against the government. Better yet, the page includes the contact information for Fox News Channel. We need to start making our voice heard. Contact Fox News Channel and let them know what you think of this as well as the incendiary commentary of their pundits such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Roger Ebert's Excellent Letter to Bill O'Reilly

You must read Roger Ebert's letter to Bill O'Reilly. It is classic. Here is a link.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama's Team of Behavioral Economists

I read a fascinating article in Time magazine last night about how President Obama is incoporating behavioral economics into his policies. You can access the article here.

I had a couple of thoughts after reading the article. First was I wished that I had heard of behavioral economics when I was studying economics in college. I always thought that the field skewed towards the conservative. An example is how supply and demand analysis always leas to the answer that minimum wage laws should never be enacted. However, with behavioral economics, rationality does not always rule, since people do not always behave rationally. The prime example given in the article is a study that showed a huge difference in participation in 401(K) plans when people have to actively sign up for it vs. if they are automatically enrolled and have to actively opt out. Inertia rules in this instance.

Obama has a team of experts in this area who are helping shape his policies to actually try to change our behaviors. Some may think of this as "Big Brother" or too paternalistic, but if it is influencing us in the right direction to help solve huge problems like climate change and enormous health care costs, I say go for it.

So, my second thought was that "Change" was not just a campaign slogan. President Obama's plans are way more complex and deep than I imagined. He is really shooting for long term, far-reaching change to improve this country and the world, and I am behind him all the way.

And I will be ordering "Nudge" and "Animal Spirits" soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

RNC Survey

I was pointed to this link to a survey being run by the Republican Party for its members. It's pretty hilarious. The wording is so slanted I don't know how they even expect serious results.

5. Should Republicans unite to block new federal government bureaucracy and red tape that will crush future economic growth?


11. Should bureaucrats in Washington, DC be in charge of making your health care choices instead of you and your doctor?


The best question, and one that I almost registered just to answer was this one:

1. Why did Republicans lose the White House and Congressional seats in the 2008 elections? Check all that apply.
Iraq War
Poor Economy
Government's Response to Katrina
Republican Scandals
Republicans acted like Democrats
President Bush's policies
Liberal Media

How I would love to check every item except "Liberal Media" and "Republicans acted like Democrats" (what's that supposed to mean anyway?) and then go to town on "Other". Here are some I would add:

- Nominating an unqualified person like Sarah Palin to be VP
- Inciting racism
- Allowing torture

What would you add?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama's Tax Plan: No Need to Cry for the Wealthy

Before everyone cries for all of the rich people who will be getting tax increases or contends that Obama is a socialist for even daring to increase taxes on the rich, I would like to point out two things.

First, let us define "marginal tax rate". According to Webster's New World Finance and Investment Dictionary, the definition is:
The tax rate that is paid on an additional dollar of taxable income.
So, when you hear percentages being tossed around, please remember that increasing the marginal tax rate on those making over $250,000 will only apply that rate to the amount made over $250,000. That is how a progressive tax system works. As you make more, the additional amount made is taxed at a higher rate. So, for 2008, a married couple filing jointly pays 10% on any income up to $16,050. For the amount made between $16,050 and $65,100, 15% is paid. The current top marginal tax rate (35%) is only paid on income over $357,700!

Second, please take a look at the history of the highest marginal tax rates. Between 1917 and 1980 (except from 1925-1931 hmmm, interesting, what happened to the economy during that time?), the year Reagan won the Presidential election, the top tax rate ranged from 46% to a whopping 92%! When Ronald Reagan took office, the top tax rate was 70%. Reagan brought it down to 50% in 1982 and then down to a low of 28% near the end of his time in office. (Hmmm, what happened to the economy in the early 90s? I'm thinking I should compare the history of top tax rates to economic cycles). When Clinton took office in the 90s, it went back up to 39.6%. George W. Bush brought it down to the current 35%.

President Obama is talking about bringing rates back to the level of the 1990s, so back to a maximum of 39.6%. This is still at the very low end of the range of historical tax rates and is again, only a marginal tax rate. So please, let's not act like President Obama is some radical that is turning the United States into some socialist, communist version of France.

And please don't cry for the wealthy. Relatively speaking, they have it pretty good.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Socialism Revisited

In an earlier post, I provided the definition of socialism and how it is not at all the correct word to describe what President Obama is having to do to fix this horrible economic mess George W. Bush left for him. I anticipated that the Republicans were going to continue this campaign rhetoric of John McCain.

Here is an excellent editorial that was in the San Jose Mercury News by Stanford professor Dan Edelstein further explaining why it is so wrong for Republicans to be using this term. He also provides a definition of socialism:

Socialism, as it was theorized in the 19th century and put into practice by the Soviets, was the nationalization of everything — all the "means of production": banks, yes, but also industries, farms, even private property. It was an economic philosophy that explicitly rejected the market economy and capitalism, seeking instead to have the state direct economic growth through "five-year plans" and other centralized measures.

This is not at all what is happening in this country, and it is maddening that the media is propagating this myth with headlines like Newsweek's "We Are All Socialists Now". Republicans are using the term as a code word for Communism, and it absolutely laughable. However, the media is not setting anyone straight with the facts and history of the term.

Government spending is not socialism. A progressive tax system where the marginal tax rate increases as income increases is not socialism. Helping the nation's needy is not socialism. Developing a health care system that attempts to provide affordable health care for those who cannot currently afford health insurance or get it provided by their employer is not socialism. Providing services through government is not socialism. Government funding of scientific research is not socialism.

Check out the article from an expert on the history of socialism.

A Worthy Cause - Tide Loads of Hope

Tide Loads of Hope, which began during Hurricane Katrina, is an effort to help in the aftermath of natural disaster by providing clean clothes and a sense of comfort to families in need. They help by either washing loads of laundry for free in special traveling Tide Loads of Hope trucks and vans or by partering with local laundromats.

P&G is currently driving an effort to raise money for Tide Loads of Hope by selling really cool t-shirts. These Tide Loads of Hope vintage shirts can be purchased through this link. All profits go to support families affected by disaster.

Please consider helping out this worthy cause by purchasing a t-shirt here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

On a Lighter Note

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's impersonation of Barack Obama really cracked me up. President Obama's image is so calm, cool and collected, which I think is very beneficial during a crisis of the magnitude we are facing. What I like about the impression is that even while angry, Obama is portrayed still as very calm. It's hilarious. Check it out!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So NOW the Republicans Want to be Fiscal Conservatives Again!?

I find it quite interesting after eight years of the Bush Administration deficit spending, NOW the Republicans are all of a sudden worried about burdening our children and grandchildren with debt.

The fact is that when President Clinton was in office, there was budget surplus. Now, I want to make sure that I state this correctly, because I do believe this fact is sometimes misunderstood. When Clinton left office, his budget for the last three years did have a budget surplus. This does not mean that there was no national debt. Still, he was spending less than revenues being brought in, reducing the national debt rather than adding to it. So much for big spending Democrats, right?

Enter President Bush, from the "fiscally conservative" Republican party. What happens? Immediate budgets with deficits. See the chart here! To quote the story on

President Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year

So, in Bush's eight years in the White House, he added trillions of dollars to our national debt. Where was this fiscal conservatism when Bush was spending billions of dollars on the Iraq War? Where was the concern when Bush was pushing through his $1.3 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy? Now that the country is in such serious trouble, the Republicans seem to have no problem making a complete 180-degree flip and decrying leaving this debt for our children.

I say, let's make sure there is a viable country to leave for our children and grandchildren. One where the financial system is fixed; where we have solved the problem of oil dependency; where there is health care for anyone who needs it; where there are good-paying jobs for everyone who wants to work; where the nation's infrastructure is not in a bad state of disrepair; where levies hold and where bridges are stable; a nation where the educational system works and provides a quality education for all children.